Web Design: What you do and what you don’t do

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mjcpk is an Internet collective that provides Web Design, Web Development. Hosting, Site Maintenance, SEO, Analytics and Site Promotion services. They are based in the South East of England, UK. mjcpk - web design and development

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Web Design - Educating your clients

Web Design - Educating your clients

So much of being a freelance web designer is about educating your clients. It is important that your clients understand the process and how things are going to work. It is also very important that both client and designer understand what producing a website is all about.

When a client wants a website they contact a web designer. That seems simple enough but the client is usually unaware of the different types of people that the term web designer covers. To them a web designer is a person that makes a website happen but the truth is more complicated.

What’s in a name?

A web designer could be a someone with a graphic design background who will draw up a design for a website for someone else to implement. Sometimes these designers have learned a bit of coding and can produce some HTML and CSS. Other types of web designer may be more familiar with receiving a completed design as an image and they will then produce a site from that. Other designers are more into the functionality of the site and have a background in web development.

In an agency the many roles required to produce a site may be handled by a number of individuals with specific tasks and abilities. As a freelancer, however, you often have to handle a multitude of different tasks all by your self.

Is registering a domain name design? No it’s not but for the client it is essential to making the website happen. The same goes for hosting, email setup, search engine submissions, analytics, promotion, link building, SEO, copywriting and many more. Some of these things you may be able to do, some you may have to but you shouldn’t expect, or be expected, to do them all.

Part of educating your client is explaining to them the requirements of a site and what you a capable of providing. You should be clear that things like analytics, SEO, promotion etc. are not part of the design process. They are all things that the client should consider

and understand but it is not a web designer’s job to provide them. This can be hard to do because no one wants to scare off a client. If you can build up a relationship with people who provide these services then you can always refer your clients to them for that part of the project.

A little explanation needed

Clients often like to understand more about what they are paying for. Websites are becoming more and more integral to commerce these days so it won’t hurt them to know what it is all about. A successful site makes for a happy client and a happy client will bring you more business either directly or from word of mouth. So even if you don’t supply the services that make it a success if you provided the explanation and advice that set the ball rolling then you’ll make yourself very popular.
It is understandable that a client is unaware of all the details of how a website works but too often web designers see to be as well. I often see sites that look fantastic but that the designer hasn’t considered the SEO implications of his/her code or they haven’t informed the client what it takes to get visitors to a site.

A nice looking site on its own is like a print brochure sat in a box. If it doesn’t get to someone who wants to see it then it is pointless. Just putting a site on the web isn’t going to guarantee that people visit it. Bad copy and structure may even mean that it isn’t appearing in the search engine rankings for you main keyword at all.

So what can your clients expect from you? When you have finished your work what are they left with? If it’s a fancy looking site and not much else that’s fine, as long as they understand that and understand what still needs to be done by someone else.

So, where does that get us?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to what you’re good at. If you design great looking sites then don’t be tempted outside of your comfort zone to provide other services. If it is important that you provide these services to get clients then may be you need to partner up with someone with complimentary skills to yours. Whatever you do play to your strengths and make sure the client understands what you do and don’t do.